Tag Archives: diversity

diversity and inclusion

here’s a little more from raul’s blog. the topic raul broached was diversity. by the way, those of you who are not engaged in social media, please don’t run away. because guess what – what’s happening in social media is very similar to what’s happening IRL – i mean, in real life 🙂

raul quotes tamera kramer

“diversity actually means diverse voices too. and I also would throw in that while lack of women’s voices is a HUGE issue, we should also be talking about opening the field beyond white/ straight/ physically capable. let’s define what being truly diverse really means.”

tamera is absolutely right. why isn’t there a conversation around diversity and what it means both in general for the speaker’s circuit and for the social media world overall?

there are some very good comments on raul’s blog, ranging from whether “having a conference for example for gay Latino men that excludes everyone else” is or isn’t the answer (tris and cecily say something about that) to underscoring the need to hear the voices of people with disabilities (ganga and glenda weigh in on this) to wondering how supportive social media in vancouver – and probably elsewhere – really is (kudos to steff) to warning of the pitfalls of social privilege given to people with diverse backgrounds, using the example of livejournal (atomicpoet).

here are a few things i added to the comments

inclusion AND diversity, once we go beyond the obvious, are very difficult, one of the reasons being what tris mentioned – it’s HARD to grasp.

it’s like fish trying to understand why humans fear drowning, or a grasshopper trying to grasp what’s so good about living under a rock 200 m deep in the ocean.

or wait! in most cases that would be the wrong metaphor – because a grasshopper sees no need to imagine the life of an undersea creature.

or wait! THAT’s what social media and blogging are – theoretically – so good for: hearing/seeing/reading what “those other” people live like, love, hate, and laugh about.

social media and blogging have helped open a lot of topics that were previously taboo or accessible only to far-off corners of society. terra gave a fabulous example of that when she talked about how mommybloggers did away with stigma around mental illness during MentalHealthCamp.

are we ready to take the next step?

the next step is going from nodding enthusiastically to acting on what we have found when we looked through the social media windows into other people’s lives. here are a few ideas if we truly want to hear the voices that so far we have not heard, for whatever reason (one of them being that our ears were closed). how do we make it possible for those voices to be heard?

let’s take the voice of poverty. how is someone on low income going to get to an event in a far-off suburb? car? probably not. public transit? IS there public transit going to the event? and if so, how much does it cost? how do you think it feels for someone on low income to always ask for money for such events? and remember, they need to get the money for it beforehand, not after, because if you are on low income, you have days where you have no cash whatsoever.

the voices that haven’t been heard much are often untrained voices. tris says we should look for “the best person to speak on that topic”. it’s easy for the mainstream to say what “best” means, and that measuring stick is often self-referencing. does “best” mean polished, up-to-date, articulate, in-group like? or could it mean someone who adds a new perspective, someone who wakes us up, perhaps by making us feel uncomfortable? we all love to quote people like gandhi, dr. martin luther king or einstein for the courage they instill to go against the grain. easy to do in hindsight and from our comfy chairs. but think about how lonely, scared, inept and other they felt when they first started out. are we ready to tolerate, even embrace that otherness?

inclusiveness means including everyone. here’s an example, which is the second part of my comment on raul’s blog

re blogging dads, tris – one of the reasons why social media here in vancouver is clique-y (and it’s not terribly clique-y but still noticeable) is because the vast majority of people who can get together at a bar on a thursday evening at an hour’s notice are single, mobile people, who live and/or work downtown.

a south vancouver grandma like me, or rob who has two little kids – well, it’s hard for us to do that. so the cliquishness comes from different lifestyles, among other things. added to that are the unique social skills and habits that social media types display.

my point is that inclusion is not only about the obvious. tris also made a good point – that being in loud crowds does not appeal to everyone. now of course we can’t always try to make everyone happy or comfortable. but it’s important to remember that if a group always behaves the same way, it automatically appears unwelcoming to those who don’t or can’t behave in that way.

a big topic, i know.

which is why i like to propose something: let’s have a topic for our next northern voice blogging and social media (un)conference:

diversity and inclusion!

then maybe we can think about it and take it into the flesh-and-blood world …

comment aspirations

australian postage stampi love all your comments, people! one of the things i had hoped for in my goals for this year was to have more conversations on this blog, and i think that’s happening. thank you so much!

so with this in mind, i thought it’s time to throw together some comment guidelines. not because there are any big problems – actually, i can’t believe how few comment problems we have here on this blog (none of the trolls like me??) – but because with increased number of comments, i’d like to have a tool to manage any upcoming glitches.

here is what i propose:

last year, i wrote two posts on appreciative communication and improving on silence, both about comments in the blogosphere and beyond. taking the ideas in those posts, here are my personal aspirations for commenting:

  • comment with kindness and respect
  • listen carefully to others in order to understand their perspectives
  • take responsibility for my words
  • keep criticism constructive
  • respect diversity and be tolerant of differences
  • keep a balance between self-interest and the interests of others in the conversation
  • remember truth!
  • improve on silence: make the comment meaningful

yes, these are aspirations – meaning that i strive towards them but cannot guarantee i will always fulfil them 100%. when i don’t, i’m open to moving closer to them, and open to people pointing out to me that i could do better.

while i don’t expect commenters to have the same mindset, when i choose to challenge, edit or delete a comment, i propose that i point to these aspirations.

an example would be something that has been happening a bit lately. i’m getting more and more traffic from people who appear to be using mass commenting software. this is an interesting grey area. while i have no problem with people commenting here who also want to drive traffic to their sites, i’m not excited when that seems to be the sole motivation. in that case, i want to point out that i will either delete the comment or edit those areas that are glaringly promotional without adding much to the conversation.

practically, this means that i find it preferable when people state their names or their blog names when leaving comments, rather than calling themselves “lose weight now!” or some such thing.  similarly, i’m not fond of seeing bold face in a comment when i get the feeling that it’s done for promotional purposes.

then there are controversial topics like sex trade or the use of police force. i definitely want to invite passionate comments – but when it comes to name-calling or generally disrespect, that’s where the buck stops. if there is a problem, i think the first line of defense would be to point out that i’m uncomfortable with a comment, and why. if that doesn’t work, i’d like to reserve the right to edit or delete, with a preference for editing. i don’t like the idea of totally deleting a comment unless it’s obvious spam.

you are my commenters. what do you think? any – well, comments? additions?

(a little comment on the back-end of this post: it’s st. patrick’s day today, so phew,
i’m glad these are green birds! and what a nice coincidence:
the image is by
©2008 gareth taylor.
go to his profile, what he says there goes perfectly with this blog post)